Some Manhattan Area Technical College students will return to limited, in-person classes starting April 6, president James Genandt told The Mercury Monday.
The college’s general education and business administration classes, as well as other classes without critical hands-on components, will resume online starting Monday. However, lab and clinical classes will start April 6, with the expectation that class sizes will be kept to 10 or fewer students, in keeping with state requirements on gatherings of people. The school will extended its spring semester through May 29.
“MATC has been in contact with the Riley County Health Department for guidance on the parameters to have limited lab/clinical course access (welding, HVAC, building trades, nursing, etc.),” Genandt said.
“To maintain the integrity of the instruction provided by MATC, we didn’t consider moving exclusively to an online format,” he said. “It is important that our students get the hands-on training vital for them to be successful out in the workforce, especially at times such as these where trained professionals are needed more than ever.”
Kansas’ technical colleges have varied in their approach to class suspensions because of the coronavirus situation. In the area, colleges like Washburn Technical Institute have suspended all in-person classes and moved to online learning for the rest of the semester, while others like Flint Hills Technical College suspended in-person classes for the time being, moving to online classes in the meantime.
Students who return to MATC classes on campus will be required to sign an initial screening document that asks them about their recent travel, potential COVID-19 symptoms and potential proximity to someone with a laboratory-confirmed case of the disease. For each class after, students will need to initial a class roster sheet confirming their previous answers to the screening haven’t changed.
Additionally, the school will limit access to common areas, although an email from Sarah Phillips, vice president of student success, to the college’s employees said the school was struggling to acquire additional disinfectant items to keep the building and its furnishings clean during operations.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to acquire some but if not, we’ll come up with a plan for the interim,” Phillips said in the email.
Genandt said faculty will work with students who may be sick or under stay-at-home orders individually to ensure the health and safety of all students, faculty and staff.
If the health department issues a countywide stay-at-home order, Genandt said the college will continue with online instruction as much as possible while re-evaluating how and when in-person classes could resume.